Archive | February, 2015

Untitled

Peter Buckley

so whisper,
behind a curtain,
you the baroque interior of your thoughts,
the Art Deco façade,
after a Gothic phase.

Now I come along
offering fake moustaches for us to wear,
and pose like Tarzan and Jane,
you, in whom I found a place,
with whom I defined what I had.

At lunchtime, when portable oranges
are in plentiful supply,
I’ve become an entity,
more than a glass of milk.

With you,
I get up at witching hour,
with thoughts of brooms.

You with phony moustache on
an old cathode-ray tube set,
in monochrome,
think of railroads,
as I think of repairing any serviceable car into being,
and horses.

Available work
for a fruit marketeer,
you Arabic pattern
repeated often and often,
on ceramic vase, kitten, tile,
behind you in a reflection in
the bathroom cabinet full of chocolate, cranberries, wolfberries,
loosely defined as a place to be there,
with the first scene of unrealised dreams of being a filmmaker in place,
the rest to be worked on
in the manner of Dennis Hopper –

and you know,
being a good writer and performer
on wisely-chosen stages
since you journeyed here,
from Croatia

you have stood around
as a casual observer,
in the blue windmill lacking blades,
from which we
milled the occasional flower
in our days,
and had memories of
hanging paintings,
at which to stare,
and enjoy in some way.

2.

We have enough freedom,
not to get drunk,
there are plenty of cold beers in the fridge.

When I close my eyes,
I see Roy Lichtenstein’s dots.

After going through reams of receipts,
I have worked out
you were overcharged by five pence
for tinned apricots.

I have nailed our mattress to the wall,
where we uncage panthers,
to hunt moss-green toenails
in the long-grass
of growing cress.

You play an old video game
called “Castle of Enchantment”
released exclusively on your heart,
a plucked zither,
for the SNES.

In the middle-distance,
where castles of Edinburgh
float above your knees,
as we await RAC recovery vehicles,
and National Express coaches pass by like hippos,
boastful of their newly-fitted wheels.

My habit of imagining every moment as it’s sung.

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A More Radiant Complexity

Kevin Heaton

The moon’s sluice gate
is a phosphorescent tide pool
                                  of ambient radiance—
the piecemeal illuminator of neophyte stars
behind the night sky-pillow.

I look to the firmament beyond
a marshy parade ground of negligible bones.

                                                      A question—
a bass drone of belly heat
about hexagonal portals of light.
What source the static interplay
in great rift fissures, lightning
is scarcely older than oceans, dating
only prior to the slug.

                                        An entreaty for faith
beyond a cauldron of notions in a perfect
storm of revelatory vespers—essence
of sweet bay laurel—catharsis
                                                                    in the clouds.

Fract

Kevin Heaton

Cyprus chalices gild more slowly quartered in wooden
nickels. We see earth, a quandary of skewed parameters.

Flippant passing lanes flipping-off red lights. A larghissimo
rotunda: unique, timeless, beautifully scored but rootbound,

frangible on its push-me pull-you spindle. Flatulent
from breech births. A crescendo of sostenuto tympani

chords and paid forward promissory notes. We gather
as pilgrims in tempera colored almshouses, contrite as rogue

monks, offering marzipan oblations and almond chest milk
to waif children. We grope stained glass at Casa de la Caritat.

We believe. Still, nature is not confined by her terrain to an orb
of cloud deck shadows. Faith is ambient light and louvered

patinas. Shimmed cornerstones. Mustard seeds—ceded
mountains. An unseen loving cup, half-full of blossom scent.

Schizophrenia

Allen Kopp

The hallway was a gray tunnel with a black-and-white tiled floor. The boy kept his eyes on the window at the end to keep from having to look into any of the rooms as he passed them. When he and his father came to the last room on the left, his father pushed open the partly closed door and they went inside.

He hardly recognized his mother. Her hair was flat and dirty-looking, without the curl that he was used to seeing. She sat in a chair beside the bed, unmoving. Her face was very pale.

“Say hello to your mother,” his father said.

The boy stepped forward two steps. His mother moved her eyes away from a spot on the wall and looked at his face and then looked away again, as if she didn’t recognize him, or, if she did recognize him, she wasn’t interested.

“Shock treatments,” his father said. “It takes a while for it to wear off.”

“Hello, mother,” the boy said. “How have you been?”

He touched her lightly on the wrist, believing that his touch might wake her up, but she didn’t respond.

“I don’t think she knows me,” the boy said. “What should I do?”

“Don’t do anything,” his father said. “She’ll remember later that you were here.”

“Why does she have to have shock treatments?”

“Schizophrenia.”

“I don’t like this place.”

“I don’t like it, either, but she’s where she needs to be.”

The boy sat in one of the straight-backed chairs against the wall. “Will I have schizophrenia, too, because she does?” he asked.

“I don’t see it in you the way I always saw it in her,” his father said, “but we’ll see. The first sign I see that you’re that way, I’ll have you committed.”

“When will they let her come home?”

“Maybe not for a long time yet. We’ll have to get along without her the best we can, at least for the time being.”

“Don’t you think she’d get well quicker at home?”

“How would we be able to take care of her?”

“I don’t know. Maybe the doctor could stop by every now and then and see how she’s getting along.”

“Doctor’s don’t do that.”

“I think she’d be all right,” the boy said, “if she just didn’t have to sit by herself in this dark room.”

“You don’t know what you’re talking about,” his father said, sitting down and taking a cigarette out of his pocket and lighting it.

“If she would just say something to me to let me know she knows who I am,” the boy said.

“Why is that so important?”

“I don’t know. It feels funny to have your mother stare off into space and not know who you are.”

“I think it’s good for you to see her this way.”

“Why?” the boy asked.

“You need to know what things are really like. Then when she comes home and seems normal, you’ll have the picture in your mind of what she was like when she wasn’t normal, and you’ll know what to expect when it happens again.”

“Maybe it won’t happen again.”

“Maybe not, but it’s something you’ll always be thinking about.”

“I just want her to be the way she was before she got the way she is now,” the boy said.

Outside a lawn mower roared past the window. She turned toward the sound and pushed herself up out of the chair. The boy and his father watched her closely as she shuffled the few steps to the window in her old-lady booties.

“She can walk!” the boy said.

“Of course she can walk,” his father said. “There’s nothing wrong with her legs. It’s her mind that’s diseased.”

The boy went and stood beside her, to help her if need be. She watched the man outside pushing the lawn mower, first one way and then the other. When he was finished with that section of grass and went farther away where she could no longer see him, she turned toward the boy.

“I know him,” she said. “I used to go to school with him.”

The boy smiled at her and helped her back to the chair, happy that she had shown some signs of life.

“Do you want me to go get you a Coke?” he asked when she was sitting down again.

She shook her head and the boy was further encouraged.

“I think she does know who I am,” he said.

Soon visiting hours were over and the boy and his father had to leave. As they walked past the nurses’ station, two nurses were sitting there, a young one with red hair and an old one with a scowl on her face. The boy’s father stopped and leaned casually on the desk.

“Well, hello there!” the redheaded nurse said when she looked up. “How’s your wife today?”

“Just peachy,” the boy’s father said. “Is her doctor in today? I’d like to have a word with him.”

“He was here earlier,” the nurse said, “but now he’s gone. He won’t be back until tomorrow. I can leave him a note telling him you’d like to speak to him.”

“Would you?”

“Of course!”

“You know my name?”

“Yes, I believe so,” the nurse said. “It’s Mr. Dunlap, isn’t it?”

“Mr. Dunlap has a first name, you know.”

She giggled and her face turned a deeper shade of pink. “I think I know that, too,” she said. “It’s Dick.”
“Hah-hah-hah!” he laughed. “You get a gold star!”

“I’m very good at remembering names and faces,” she said.

“I suppose I should feel flattered. Your name is Miss Hull, isn’t it?”

“My friends call me Vilma.”

“That’s an unusual name, isn’t it? I don’t think I’ve ever known a Vilma before.”

“I think my mother knew somebody once by that name.”

“Well, it’s very pretty.”

“Why, thank you!”

“Well,” he said, “visiting hours are over and I have to leave, but I’ll be seeing you again real soon.”

“Why, yes!” she said. “I’m sure to be sitting right here the next time you come in.”

“I look forward to it,” he said with his most charming smile.

On the way home, the boy asked his father, “Who was that woman?”

“What woman?” his father asked.

“That woman you were talking to.”

“How should I know? She’s a nurse.”

“Do you think she’s pretty?”

“I don’t know. I guess so. Why?”

“Her lips were really red.”

“Were they?” the boy’s father said. “I didn’t notice.”

“You seemed to like her.”

“It always pays to be friendly to people.”

“You weren’t friendly with the other nurse sitting there. The ugly one.”

“What are you saying?”

“Why were you only friendly with the pretty one?”

His father took the cigarette out of his mouth and looked at the boy. “I will not be cross-examined by a twelve-year-old who doesn’t know anything!” he said.

For the rest of the day the boy gave his father the silent treatment. He refused to eat with him at the table. In the early evening he locked himself in his room, took off all his clothes except for his underwear, and examined himself in the mirror for any signs of schizophrenia.

Scattered Miracles

Clare Holman-Hobbs

You are miles away
Now
I must feel
Not see
I must pray
11:11
Scattered miracles, in the damp patches
On my pillow case
Accepting, or trying at least
Praying
Repeating,
History,
Losing you to sleep
Repeating,
Leaving
Losing sleep
And being left
Thinking
Feeling the empty
Space
Between the sheets
The empty
Distance
Missing.

Trying to map you

Fiona Sinclair

I was a debt collector once: usual static shock
at some new revelation about your past,
a politician’s deflection to my When was this?
So more details I can’t place on your Jackson Pollock timeline.
Over a year you have wooed me with
ripping yarns of life as an engineer overseas:
rock star strutting onto Concorde twice,
commuting to work on a camel in a sandstorm ,
the gilded cage of 5 star hotels from weeks to months,
Then lottery win salaries in your pocket,
de-mob happy, no contest for you and your mate
between the UK or sticking a pin in an atlas-
Back home between contracts you took
the covers off the Bugatti, Norton, Triumph,
one finger to plods as you G-forced up the motorway
to your side- line turning Shepherd Neame pubs around
with clenched fists, a head for maths, Barnum ingenuity.
One vacation, you work a tramp steamer
through the back door into Australia,
police cells like an over-night stay in B and B,
steak and beers for dinner, when a visa releases you,
another of your chance meetings, chatting to a man in a bar,
who has just lost a British engineer, you stay two years …

Decades wielding tools heavy as training weights takes its toll,
a hope I die before I get old attitude means no savings at 50,
but your canny agent reveals a modest pension
you supplement by ducking and weaving about Sussex…
Your constant first person narrative infers
only man’s best friend for company now,
but once post coitus you disclose Oh no I was living with
Showing me photos of bespoke doll’s houses
you let slip this hobby started as a labour of love for…
Sometimes the ‘I’ does mean living alone,
sharing Christmas Dinner with two blokes from the pub.
Trouble is, when our relationship first began to close in on my
own background, my gambled Let’s not talk about the past,
was accepted by you with polka player cool.
Overtime as my secrets burst their locks
I expected us to both show our hands,
but you grip onto our contract like a winning betting slip.

No One

Frank Praeger

Not depressed, just sad.
I am still, I am loud,
I laugh, contest – occasionally, even, parse.
Contentious speech waylays my wakefulness,
I can not muster, can not – what a phrase, what a
dismal outlook, can not.
Not and not reverberate,
dampen felt, dampen spell, displace Alice’s Looking Glass,
Alice looking at herself.
Big turns small, tame
wild
and no one’s name is called,
no one reaches out his arms,
no one smiles,
no one cries,
and no one walks before or walks beside,
no one.
No one is bigger than they are,
sucking up the air
and they are not to be found,
not in the spaces between periods,
or after exclamatory events, after futile interrogations.
Where did the furies go?
Placated, humored, trifles trance-like staked out
replace the formidable.
No wobbly center,
no final take
but bachelor’s button, marigold, something that lingers,
or passing as rosemary’s scent,
as a shout arising out of a starred, windless night.

A Little Bit Off

Frank Praeger

Picaresque beetles, a plethora of fungi,
lilac, wasps and a yellow-shafted flicker.
Surrounded by so many,
each coming and going,
each combatant confidant.
Hemmed in,
gigantic as each mid-day flight,
a few weeds, innocuous shrubs,
gravel and sore feet,
and in the quiet predators wait.
Luck?
Out of?
then run,
mundane
conundrums
a whistle away,
and incalculable misdirections.
The tentative does stimulate.
Numbers remain.
Separated, an arm and a leg,

a magnitude compressed
yet, marginal;
contrary to beg
caress.
the helpless stay,
wherever
tra-la-la-la.
Seagulls float in air.
As someone takes a bath
a juvenile complains.
Glory, awards and sulky aftermaths.

White
followed
by black sand.

After The Poetry

Elena Broch

After the verses have been written there’s no reconciliation
Poetry is the worst of all betrayals
The knife stuck in the back right up to the hilt
When poetry starts, it’s all over
The exclusivity
As always, that little vice which adorns
Those who love
Those who love without thinking
Those who leave and return
Expecting to see the same arrangement of trees
The same holes in the rafters of my building
(remnants of the Allies’ present for Easter 1944)
After the verses have been written, there’s no apologizing
If it could be, it would be
If it was worthy, these verses wouldn’t be written
If it as curable, I wouldn’t patch my wound with them
I embroidered my wound by hand, with a gold thread
Filigree work
Handmade
You think you can buy it?
The wound stitched with pure gold is priceless
After the verses have been written, there’s no forgiving,
I don’t like the same streets any more,
Ploughed under a million times
Into my verses
They are worse worn out than our words on the phone
And more devastated/wasted than our encounter
Much colder than the snow that was falling then
And much bewildering than the image of the snow falling then
And around the street lamp could be seen the swirl of snowflakes
Don’t think you know the real value of the ache I feel
Don’t even think I feel a real ache
It has been written
The pain’s gone
After I’d written the verses, you became false
You became distant
Impersonal like the boulevards
If you try to say something
I’ll know it’s out of boredom
You have nothing to say any more
The ache is precious
The worlds are created out of it
One disappears into it
You can do anything you like now
Feel free to love me
You have no poetry for me to write

Madonna and Child Redux

John Grey

museum promises to be dull,
you’ll be hours

with the Virgin Mary
and her offspring

a thousand artists
with unpronounceable names

all imagining the same thing,
all dabbling in the same illusion;

after a while, you’re caught up in
the improvements you could make:

a moustache for the woman,
a split lip for the child,

maybe a new scrawl for a signature,
Gumby or Kilroy or Normal Rockwell;

meanwhile, your lover is in awe
of the beauty, the reverence,

and, more than that, she believes;
relationship promises to be chill,

you’ll be years in that museum

Love Is An Oil Spill

John Grey

Not waves of flesh
but an ocean heavy, turgid.
Not deep and warm
but thick and oily to the touch.

You find love
by groping your hands in it,
hoping to rescue suffocated dreams,
scrub their bodies, wash their wings.

What’s a fantasy
when dense brown bubbles
pop and hiss,
or clot the veins, the arteries.

Love’s the men who,
for all their measured breaths,
break like barges in the clinch,
boil and roil you in a coat of oil.

Soon, your beaches are graveyards,
your scents are smells.
Your hair cannot glide across your neck,
just squats down on your head.

If you think of God at all,
it’s as the relentless owner of these vessels,
who sends them to you
knowing they’re not sea-worthy.

You don’t smile at the joke
for fear your teeth will blacken.
And then when you find you can’t swim in love,
you learn to float atop it.

It’s True

Jacob Richardson

A church bell is heard nearby the hospice. It plays a hymn. An ambulance siren kills it. Rachel knows that the hospice is a place for people waiting to die. She lives there. Her Mother doesn’t want to come to the realization that Rachel is terminally ill. “Look how healthy you look. It’s true,” Her Mother says.

She’s watching her little Rachel look at her bald head in the mirror. Rachel looks like a cancer patient. A commercial on the hospital television reminds Rachel of a movie she saw at summer camp called Faces of Death. She was ten years old then. She saw videos of humans and other animals dying on film. A chicken has its head chopped off on one video. Rachel remembers that the video made her feel bad about eating chicken. Her Mother took her to eat at McDonald’s a month later after seeing the film. Rachel had asked Her Mommy if Chicken McNuggets were made from real chickens that died.

“No little girl, it’s not from a real chicken,” Her Mother said. “It’s true. Bless your food and eat sweetie.”
“God, thank you for this food,” Rachel said. In time, Her Mother told Rachel the truth that Chicken McNuggets were made from dead chickens. “The chicken’s death was a sacrifice for us to eat and live,” Her Mother said.
The young Doctor Null is close to tears when he brings Rachel the form. The paper has a drying drop of water. Rachel signs the document to donate her organs after her death comes. She knows it’s a sacrifice of her organs for others to use and live.

Rachel signs the paper. She smiles.

“For science,” she says.

“I’m officially declared dead,” Rachel whispers to Doctor Null. “It’s true,” she says using Her Mother’s favorite phrase. “It’s too early to tell her though. My mother doesn’t need to know yet.”

Her Mother overhears. She knows it’s true too. She stares at the McDonald’s commercial that’s on the television with a solemn expression.

Love

Theo Martin

I will go to hot winds with ragged breath,
When browns and blues made rich bedfellows,
And tempers fueled fires and raged into the night,
And soft dreams seemed full of purpose.

There the oil of youth, the endless wealth,
Was open and playful, all knowing and shameful,
Full of dark, wicked riches, when love was empty,
When the sky was open and waiting.

I will go to soft sands and rough winds,
Those narrow paths, damp with heat,
Toxic with sweetness and glory,
When love was easy and the world was ready.

Summer

Theo Martin

I miss those tender days of you,
How open you were,
How broken you seemed,
How wild and free

Quiet brings exotic need,
Open hearts and open mouths,
That grow from leaves, to roots and seed,
And call me, tumbling earthward bound

There is no going back, it’s true,
No throwing myself into you,
Those long bright days of glamorous fervour,
Hot bright weeks with greatness to offer

But it was never real, at least not true,
Too many shadows entered you,
But still in quiet moments I’ll come,
Wake, to when you and I were one.

Caipora

Holly Day

You can’t count on nature spirits to find
babies wrapped in old sheets, by the side
of the road and under the trees, gasping for their first breaths
not quite alive, simply abandoned. You can’t count

on fox-headed women, sylphs with cow tails
to be there to find babies left behind
in rest station bathrooms on lonely country roads
to come just in time to stop those tiny cries

to save those tiny fingers twitching in lines of ash
left by cigarettes burning out on wet tile.

Bean Nighe

Holly Day

I stood over your bed and watched you sleep
watched your breath come in and out of your body in ethereal waves
of damp heat. I stood so close to you I could
feel your warm breath on my skin, close enough to imagine
crawling into your bed, curling up next to you beneath the thin blankets
could have reached out and touched you, taken you in your sleep
dragged you out of bed by your hair and taken you home with me.

Instead, I dropped your purse on the floor, made
just enough noise that you stirred in your sleep. If
someone else had found your purse, someone not me,
they could have come into your apartment and taken you
where you slept. You’re so lucky it was me
and not some lunatic. All I want is
to watch you sleep, to know that you got back home safely
despite having dropped your purse in the street
to see if you were as pretty
as your driver’s license picture.

Knockout

Robert Bates

“Mark wants to beat your ass,” Julian had warned me at the beginning of the school day.

More like Mark is going to beat my ass. Everyone knows I can’t fight. I sit in my seat wondering what will happen next.

Julian sees my worried face and says, “Relax, I got your back.”

The teacher walks out and I can feel Mark watching me.

Rachel whispers, “It’ll be really funny if you win,” into my ear from her seat beside me.

I turn and Mark is in my face. He pushes me and I instinctively push him back.

He hits me. Then I’m on the ground. Completely disoriented.

I wait for another punch to come but it never does. I finally regain my senses and get up to see Julian holding Mark with his arms pinned behind his back.

“If you are going to do something, do it now,” he says, struggling to hold him.

I hit Mark three times with my left hand then he elbows Julian and breaks free. He charges at me and before I can react his fist connects with my jaw.

I wake up with Rachel in my face.

“That was pretty funny too.”

Glory

Robert Bates

I’ve waited my whole life for this. It’s the state championship game and we are down by one point. I dribble past the midcourt line while the crowd is counting down the seconds.

“Five! Four!”

Sweat drips in my eye but I can still see Devon open and waving for the pass. He’s supposed to take the last shot, but he doesn’t understand. This is my moment. I can already see that championship ring on my finger.

“Three! Two!”

This is it. I jab step and drive, successfully getting around the defender. With a victorious smirk on my face, I jump in the air, raise my elbow, and release at the top of my jump just like coach taught me. The ball begins its perfect arc towards the rim and I can feel the whole gym watching me in my moment of glory.

I miss.